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4 reasons your thumb might be sore

Let’s be honest, our thumbs work hard. And when our thumbs are sore, we notice. A painful thumb can have a huge impact on us and in many circumstances it's difficult to pinpoint exactly why it is sore – only adding to the frustration.

So what are the most common culprits of a painful thumb? Here is a brief overview of what we find to be the 4 biggest contributors:


1. Arthritis

Yep, we’ve all heard of it. The base of your thumb is one of the most common places that people will first develop osteoarthritis. Maybe you’ve had a big weekend of gardening, or it was raining so you spent the day working on a massive knitting project. Or perhaps you’ve had a little niggly pain for a while and now it just won’t ease like it used to. Whatever the case, your thumb is sore, and you are fed up. While arthritis is unfortunately not a condition that we can fix, we have certainly got some tips and tricks to help manage your pain and keep you doing those activities that you love.

2. Tendonitis

Another common reason for thumb pain is tendonitis, or more specifically, De Quervain’s tendonitis. Maybe your thumb isn’t achy and sore ALL the time. In fact, most of the time it feels pretty okay. But then you go to pick up your son or even something as simple as pull up your pants and there it is - a sharp pain that shoots straight down the base of your thumb and into your wrist. This is a condition we treat frequently at Riverina Hand Therapy and is most common in new mothers or people that work in jobs with repetitive task demands such as hairdressing.


3. Fracture

Now you might be thinking – if I’ve broken a bone and that’s why my thumb is sore, surely I’d already know. And that’s a fair thought. A notable injury can no doubt be the culprit of thumb pain and chances are it’s picked up quite early on. But perhaps you fell on your hand or bumped it on that old table 1-2 months ago and didn’t think anything of it at the time. But here we are weeks or even months down the track and something just still isn’t quite right. It is possible that an underlying fracture, even if small, is the reason behind your ongoing pain.

4. Ligament Injury

Now to the third reason – ligaments. If you have read through the rest of this blog and you’re fairly confident that none of the other reasons are to blame, you’ve most likely got some unhappy ligaments. Ligament strains and tears can cause ongoing pain in an area for 12 months. An injury that may have been insignificant at the time, or repeated injuries at sport can strain the ligaments and leave you with an achy, sore thumb.

So that’s it – 4 of the most common reasons behind general thumb pain. Pop in and see us and we can help nut out what might be going on for you and hopefully put an end to that pesky pain.

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